Squirrel scratches kid in ST

Management has tried to deal with the issue through signage, but the squirrels have continued their M.O. of approaching people anyway, and looking at you like this. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Just when you thought it was safe to unwrap your Snickers bar in Stuyvesant Town, reports have surfaced of another child getting attacked by a squirrel. Last Thursday, in its weekly newsletter to residents, StuyTown Property Services stated that a child was scratched when a squirrel leapt out of a garbage can.

Because of this, management is asking residents not to feed the local wildlife anywhere on the property. SPS also not so subtly alluded to the fact that residents have been ignoring its rule about not feeding squirrels within 50 feet of the playgrounds specifically for children’s use.

Now, along with the signs, if a resident is spotted by a public safety officer feeding the critters near any of those five children’s playgrounds, he or she will be told to stop, a spokesperson for management told us. The rep added that the scratch received by the child wasn’t serious.

In the emailed newsletter, SPS CEO and Stuy Town general manager Rick Hayduk said, “StuyTown Property Services wants to remind all residents that the squirrels cohabitating in PCVST are wild animals.

“Although appearing to be friendly, squirrels are not pets and are capable of biting or scratching if they are touched or fed by people. We ask all residents and guests not to engage the squirrels (or any of the neighboring wildlife) in any way. Included in this is the recommendation that residents and guests refrain from feeding squirrels or any of the wildlife on the property.”

Last summer, as reported by Town & Village, there were three incidents of squirrels biting children reported by parents in Stuyvesant Town. This led to plenty of heated debate (also in this newspaper) as to whether or not the bushy-tailed beggars were getting more aggressive.

However, a couple of residents we spoke with this week didn’t think prohibiting feeding entirely was necessary.

“We have to co-exist, squirrels and people,” said Chris Perednia, a retired cop. And, he added, “You’re more apt to bring home cooties from stepping in dogs*** than from having a negative encounter with a squirrel.”

Television producer Mark Sofer, while out in the Oval, said he was concerned about the fate of the critters if residents were to all of a sudden stop providing them with food.

“They haven’t fended for themselves in years and probably rely on tenants feeding them,” he said. “I think people should still feed the squirrels but parents and children should approach with caution. I don’t think kids should go up to strange dogs and feed them, either.”

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4 thoughts on “Squirrel scratches kid in ST

  1. As an old-timer, those signs are useless. For the most part, squirrel feeders are old-timers, like myself. They are going to feed those squirrels regardless of signs. Security stopping them won’t do anything either, they are stubborn and have been feeding them for decades.

    Personally I stay as far away from them as possible. A few traumatic experiences as a kid here 55 years ago will do that (yes, they have always been this brazen).

  2. Study town created this squirrel issue! No one should be feeding them anywhere in Stuy town. Those signs around the playground are embarrassing. Squirrels and pigeons contract disease and people are always feeding them. Security should start fining those who feed them. This issue keeps getting worse.

  3. As the mother of the child who was scratched, I would like to express my opinion on this matter. First of all, my child was not attempting to feed or pet the squirrel. She has been taught to shoo a squirrel if it comes too close to her, rather than try to pet it. Second of all, my child is no monster. She isn’t even two years old. She was playing in the Train Playground, which should be a safe place for her, not a place where we should be concerned about her being attacked by wild animals. And that squirrel jumped from a trash can onto her face, scratching her and breaking the skin. How dare you call the squirrel a victim!?!?!

    Feeding squirrels should be forbidden period. Not just near a children’s playground, but altogether. Squirrels are wild animals who are fully capable of finding their own food. By feeding them, residents have caused them to rely on humans for food, which disrupts the natural order of things. It has caused them to become fearless and aggressive. They assume all humans are a food source and that is why that squirrel jumped on my daughter.

    I am quite horrified by some of the comments on this article and wonder if people would feel the same way if it were a less attractive rodent, like a rat. Squirrels are rodents. They carry diseases, fleas, ticks. Teaching them to equate humans with food Is dangerous. And defending the one who attacked my child is disgraceful.

  4. The Tenants Association should be providing leadership on this important Quality of Life Issue.

    Instead, it continues with its effort to cozy up to elected officials who keep the Foundation well-fed with the surplus Roberts Settlement proceeds.

    M. Steinmetz

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